I somehow half expected it to be raining
It was dark, musky, and sweaty. The sound of base thumping to shit-techno seemed far off into the distance. People were jumping up and down trying to keep the beat. A few whoops and cries could be heard every now and then over the noisy and busy chatter.The moment was on her. Everything was on her. Nothing else mattered. Nothing.
Lips locked in passion, did kissing ever feel this good?
She paused for a moment.
"Do you smoke?" Warm breath enveloped my face.
"I can taste it on your teeth
It's really not good for you, you should stop"
"Consuming abnormal amounts of alcohol on a daily basis isn't the best thing for you either"
She let out a sinful giggle, "What's your name? I like you."
.Emily", I breathed.
It was all I managed to say before her lips found mine again.
Muddy and messy, that's the way she liked things.
"Let's finger paint" She was leaning against the fridge, fiddling with a ring on her pointer finger.
"No thank you, I'm a terrible artist"
"Oh, shut up, no one's a terrible artist. And can you please put that thing out?" She looked at the smoke that swirled from my nose, disgusted.
"Sorry" I threw the cigarette bud on the crappy linoleum flooring, smothering the flame with my shoe.
The floor was so covered with old newspapers and trash anyway, what did it matter? I thought she would nag me about that too, but then again, we lived in a giant shit pile.
"C'mon, let's go paint before it gets dark"
"Since when did the time of the day ever effect what you had planned?" Emily tended to go by 'Emily Schedule' which was basically her doing whatever she wanted, whenever she wanted. No matter if it was one in the morning of three in the afternoon.
"Since we stopped paying the electric bill" I had forgotten we had been living without power for about two days now, having to rely on the sun to for light.
" I didn't say anything because I knew there was no point in arguing. We were going to paint. That's what she decided and that's the way it was going to be.
She grinned with knowledge of her victory "There's the can of blue paint that we never used to paint the kitchen with, it's in the closet, can you go get it please?"
It turned out not to be as horrible as I thought it was going to be. Watching her paint was fascinating, the way she took her pointer finger and dipped it in the pool of blue (We didn't have enough money for brushes). She worked so carefully on the giant swirling blob that now smacked you in the face every time you walked by the living room. It seemed as if all the walls had some little pencil drawing or painting on them now.
She wiped her face, smearing a piece of sky across her cheek.
She caught me staring at her, and smiled.
We looked at each other for what felt like an eternity. Sending silent love notes with our eyes.
She didn't have to tell me.
As my lips worked against hers, her hand grazed the skin of my back, smearing paint above my tail bone. I didn't care.
I think secretly, a part of me wished she would paint my entire body with that crappy blue paint, shape me with her perfect fingers, so then, maybe, I would have a chance at becoming something beautiful enough to deserve her.
Her dad didn't even show. Of course he didn't, that bastard.
I don't know what had awoken me, but I was awake. The city lights made it hard to tell what time it was, I felt around for my watch. 2:33am. Great.
I looked down to find her, beautiful in the night. Our body's pressed together, the electric spark of skin on skin, dirty blond hair going every which way. Her eyes were open, she was awake too.
She didn't even look up
" She didn't answer.
"What's wrong? Are you ok?" I rolled over so I was lying on my side, facing her.
This surprised me. Family wasn't something we discussed. We both knew the pain of growing up in a broken home, the pain of talking about it. That was just a misery we both decided to keep to ourselves.
I didn't know what to say.
Her nails dug into her arm as she hugged her self. Her fingers drawing attention to a now visible row of scars, each one forming a little 'o'. I think I had counted 12 of them before she said something again.
"He smokes a lot. I hate the way he smokes and I hate him. He's a worthless piece of good-for-nothing shit! I just-I can't even--
I'm a terrible aren't I?" She looked at me, pleading. Her breathing became heavy.
I could feel her beginning to tremble. Suddenly it all clicked together in my brain, her hate for smoking and the little 'o's that decorated the skin on her right arm.
A bitter sweet longing washed over me. "Oh
Oh no honey
You're not terrible at all. You're wonderful. Absolutely delightful"
She looked at me for a while, I think trying to get a hold of herself, but she just ended up letting go. And so she cried. It was the first time she had ever cried in front of me. So I just held her, let her tears run in to me, stream down her cheeks and onto my chest.
Her heart was bent in a way I could understand.
And as far as her father went, all I could think was:
Her family obviously didn't know her well at all, everything from the music they played, the flowers they gave, to the tears they shed were all wrong. The ceremony didn't last long. That was the only thing that seemed right. She wasn't very patient.
"Look the sun is showing its big fat ugly head"
"Don't say that
Ya-a-a-wn! It's beautiful" I looked down at her all snuggled up,
her head resting on my thighs, eyes closed.
"You're not even awake."
"Shut up, yes I am
"Emily, you made me stay up all night to watch the sun rise over some shitty sky scraper, you can't tell me to shut up"
"I just did" Her eyes popped open, a shocking blue against the black of my boxers, and she smiled. When she said 'let's watch the sun rise together', I thought she meant together, not me staying up all night by myself as she slept in my lap.
"Ugh" I rolled my eyes
"C'mon! Look! Isn't it romantic?" She sat up rubbing her eyes.
Sometimes it was hard for me to see the beauty in things the way Emily did. I took a good hard look at the sun that now shone over the city. I mean, I really tried hard to see what she must be seeing as she looked out of our crappy apartment window. I failed miserably. All I saw was a bunch of dumpy buildings; they're ugliness even more visible in the now lit up sky.
She looked at me, and it must have been obvious on my face that I definitely did not see what she was getting at. So she stood up and walked to the kitchen, flipping the light switch on, then off again repeatedly. She groaned.
"Shit" She mumbled under her breath. Power's off again, as usual. So she felt her way around the kitchen taking advantage of the little light the sun shared with the our cramped apartment. I imagined she found whatever it was she was looking for because she came back and tugged on my hair, signaling me to get up.
"What are we doing now?" I fumbled to stand; my legs were numb and dead feeling.
"Come stand in front of the window with me" She grabbed my hand a pulled me along beside her.
We now stood in front of perfect clones of ourselves, reflected flawlessly in the glass of the window. I got lost in her reflection, to me, she was perfect. The way her choppy dirty blond hair was all frazzled and out of place, and the way my t-shirt she was wearing complimented her long legs. God, I love her.
In her right hand was a black Sharpie.
I didn't. I stood perfectly still. I watched as she closed one eye and traced our reflections on the window in black. Everything was silent, except the muffled sound of people on the streets and the squeak of Sharpie against glass. When she was done tracing our bodies, she added in a few buildings, and then the sun.
As I stared blankly at the little doodle on the window, something clawed at my heart.
The doodle on the window made me finally see the beauty the Emily always spoke so fondly of. There was me, her, and the world for us. That's it. At least that's how she saw it. I was suddenly hyper aware of her presence next to me. It felt as if nothing was right unless she was in my arms. So I just pulled her into me and hugged her as tight as I could.
I needed her. But she was something I could never actually have. I don't mean to be cliché, but she was like a bird, and I was a cage. I trapped her here, and even though she ignored it, she knew it too. She was the kind of person that could never really be with anyone. She was independent, and lived solely for herself. Just right now, she thought I was what was best for her. What was going to happen when she thought differently
I would always be reaching out for her, as she stood just a few inches too far away. I was silently breaking apart when I felt the slow motion of Emily slipping through my fingers, her body fleeting and intangible.
The clock was ticking fast.
No one wanted to say anything to her except me. I could feel everyone's eyes on me as I stood and said a simple "Good bye." Better late than never. I sat back down.
"Here's your change, sir. Three dollars and sixteen cents."
This man was rather large and unclean looking. He took the money from my hand,
and grabbed his single grocery bag.
"Have a nice day" My voice came out flat. It's hard to be enthusiastic in Wal-Mart.
The grizzly man just made a sort of grunting/mumbling sound and left with his bag only containing a bottle of vodka.
I looked at the clock on the checkout screen. It read 5:48pm, twelve minutes until Emily got here and we walked home together.
I checked around making sure there weren't any customers coming into my line. I turned off my station light, and went into the bathroom to change out of my cheesy blue work shirt and into my plain white tee.
I didn't care that I ended my shift early. I hated the job and was eager to get out and see Emily. That was all that was on my mind. I clocked out, grabbed my jacket and went outside to wait for her.
Oh that rain
that rain just came from nowhere. The sky was grey and angry, unrelenting as it poured its dirty polluted rain drops down on my dumpy, dreary, ugly city.
My hair fell in wet wavy strands in front of my eyes. I had to squint if I had any chance of seeing her from far away.
"Screw this" I mumbled under my breath, and went back inside to watch for her by the window. And so I waited.
Seconds turned into minutes, minutes to an hour, an hour to I couldn't wait any more.
She was always a little late, but never like this. Everyday I'd see her running around the corner, fifteen twenty minutes behind. And every day she had a different excuse. She'd say in between pants "I'm sorry
I was just
There was this cat in the road
" or "I thought
you might be hungry
so I made some dinner for you at home
but I couldn't leave until it was in the oven
I never mind it. Actually, it was kind of cute. I liked hearing about the things Emily did when I wasn't around.
I paced back and forth, debating on whether or not to head home on my own.
What if she takes a different route and I miss her all together? What if something happened? What will happen if she gets here and I'm gone, already home? Questions were jumbling around in my brain, and it felt as if they were beating against my skull, giving me a headache.
Fuck it. I turned to the direction of our apartment and started walking. I was constantly looking around, making sure I didn't accidentally walk past her.
I started into a light jog, I was panicking. I tried to calm myself down as I dodged people walking, a few of them giving me strange looks. My calming methods must not have worked, because before I knew it, I was sprinting.
Big, plump rain drops were pelting me in the face, left, left, right, left, right. Turning corners and passing street signs, everything was all a blur.
I arrived at the front steps exhausted; my hands were bloodied, my jeans torn. I had tripped and skidded on the pavement several times on my way. With every fall, my frustration and panic grew. I felt like I was going to explode.
I hurried up two flights of stairs, to apartment number twenty-three. I about broke down the door as I burst into the room. I wasn't happy with what I saw.
There, Emily sat, a bottle of beer in hand, shaking. She was mumbling something to herself, and her eyes seemed hazy and somewhere else. My eyes were glued to the kitchen knife that also seemed to be so carefully laid out in front of her.
The distance between us never had felt greater.
It took her a few seconds, but she finally registered I was there.
When her eyes eventually found mine, all I could manage to choke out was, "Emily, have you been drinking again
?" Oh gosh, wow. Drinking and Emily
was this really happening again? I thought we had moved passed it, it'd been almost a year and a half since the last time I even heard her mention the word 'alcohol'.
A flash of some emotion sparked across her face, too fast for me to recognize. Anger? Sadness? Shit, she was totally wasted, who knew what the hell she was thinking?
All I knew was that this was a problem. A big problem. One that made me unsure of how much more of this I could handle.
I was cautious as I inched my way closer to her. My eyes kept switching from her, to the knife. Was it my imagination or had she moved closer to the blade?
I felt as if I was approaching a wounded animal. One wrong step and everything would fall apart. Those blue eyes never strayed away from me. They looked protective, like I was going to hurt her. Something twisted in the pit of my stomach.
All of the hustle and bustle outside seemed to be muted. All that was left in the world was Emily, the smell of alcohol, the knife, and me, standing dumbfounded, no idea what step to take next.
I slowly reached out to her, my fingers reaching for her left cheek.
"Don't touch me, Tomas", she hissed. Her words cut through the air like razor blades. I jumped a little; surprised how clear and strong her voice sounded even though she was definitely drunk. I was frozen to the floor I was crouched down upon.
don't. touch. me." She slurred that time. I hadn't realized my hand was still outstretched, toward her beautiful pale features. I pulled back, hurt. Now I felt like the wounded animal.
A whiff of beer washed over my face, intoxicating. I watched in terror as she snatched the knife from the floor, holding it not by its handle, but by its teeth.
"Emily!" My hand fumbled in mid-air as I tried to take it away from her. I froze, watching in horror. Her hand tightened its grip around the cold metal of the knife.
up! I can't take thisss anymore Tomas!
I-I can't deal with thisss anymore!" She waved her arms around as if referring to "this". A trail of red trickled down her arm and fell in graceful 'plip's on to the linoleum.
Please don't do this
" I whimpered, my tone pleading.
"Fuck you!" She practically screeched. I winced. "You have no idea what I'm going through! I don't want to be s-s-stuck here in this shit apartment for my entire life! I want to be somebody in life! I'm going to be nobody if I sssstay here with you!"
Her screams slurred together and echoed off the walls.
This wasn't happening. Not now. I knew our end was coming, but not this soon. I couldn't let her go.
"I love you Emily, please, listen to me! Everything is going to get better, I promise you. I'll do anything, tell me what you want! I'll get a better job! We can move somewhere else! Whatever makes you happy I'll do it! Just please, don't go
" I was desperate. I needed Emily more than I needed to breathe. She was everything to me.
There was a long silence as her features slowly morphed from anger into confusion, then to sadness.
I don't know what to do anymore
I'm ssscared." Her voice was trembling, releasing her anxiety into the air.
"Shh, shh, everything will be ok." I was surprised at how confident my voice sounded. Because I was definitely as freaked as she was. If not more. I mean what the hell was going on
? I knew Emily had issues ever since the first day I met her, but I'd never seen her like this before.
I held her, relief washing through me; I knew that I had her bound for a little while longer. I didn't care about the future, I just wanted to live in the now.
I stroked her back and her hair in the grunge of our apartment. I cringed at the sound of the knife clanking against the floor and tightened my hold around her.
She brought her lips to my neck kissing me over and over again. Whispering 'sorry's and sniffles.
I'm so tempted to destroy myself" she slurred into the nape of my neck. Her words were cold, like ice. No emotion rang through them. Dead.
Then came the tears, but they weren't hers.
I wasn't sure if I wanted to see her for the last time, I didn't know what would be worse, remembering her how she was, or seeing her how she is. The decision ended up being made for me.
I'd been living on edge these past few months. Emily had become
different. She was distant, quiet, and basically wasted every day. I'd wake up in the middle of the night to see her sitting in nothing but a ratty tee-shirt, drinking. I was too afraid to get up and comfort her. I don't think anything I could say was going to make her happy. So I'd just shut my eyes as tight as I could and let the numbness drag me into slumber.
It was Christmas time, and I'd bought her a piano. It was about the shittiest looking piece of junk I'd ever seen. The wood was warped, and the keys were out of tune, it was even missing a leg. We had, to snap the other ones off anyway to get it through the door, but it was the first thing she had asked me for in a long time. How could I refuse?
Emily never came to pick me up from work anymore. So I'd walk home alone, my feet slushing through the brown muddied snow. And everyday I'd come home to see her tinkling around on that stupid piano. I'd always come and give her a kiss on the cheek, and she'd always give sort of a half-smile, it never reached her eyes.
It was a Tuesday. I'd been working overtime lately, just to keep from having to come home to the empty shell of something I loved. Still loved. Always will love.
7:32 pm, I decided it was time to stop pushing it off and start on my home. I was cold outside, no snow, no wind. Just bitter and ice.
The air seemed to bite at my nose and ears, to the point where they were stinging with pain.
I kept my head down all the way home. I watched my feet shuffle through the snow, refusing to make eye contact with anyone. When I reached the front door of the apartment building, I paused. When I climbed up the two flights of stairs, I counted backward from thirty-two (the number of stairs) to zero, when I would be facing the door of my apartment. And before I turned the knob of the door to go inside I took several deep breaths to prepare myself.
I followed this routine every day. This is what Emily had done to me. I was afraid to see her, to see what she was becoming. I didn't want to remember her like the way she was now. It hurt too much.
I held my breath as I opened the door and came home to the same scene I saw almost every day: Emily playing nonsense on the piano, with a bottle of vodka.
" I slid out of my jacket, "You feelin' alright?" I came over and kissed her on the side of her head.
Her eyes drifted towards me as she started mumbling something unintelligible. God, she just looked so
so sick. Her eyes were puffy and blood shot. The dark circles under her eyes seemed to be embedded into every pore.
this ends t-today." And just like that she was standing upright, wobbling her way towards the door.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa! Emily! Where do you think you're going?" I jumped up to my feet.
"I'm leaving you, Thomas. D-d-don't follow me." And just like that, the door slammed shut.
The right thing to do would have been to go after because I was worried about her safety of being so intoxicated that she would trip down a flight of stairs to her death. Don't get me wrong, it isn't like I wasn't worried about that, it's just not why I finally decided to go after her. I went after because I afraid of being alone. I was a coward. And as I thought about this I was stuck to the ground, standing in front of the piano for several minutes. All of the sudden, I was sprinting down the 32 stairs, not counting a single one, and out the door of the apartment complex.
Luckily, Emily hadn't made it that far and only was standing on the corner of a dangerous intersection, waiting for her turn to cross the road. But her eyes were locked on me, glaring. She was seriously pissed that I'd followed her.
"Wait! Emily, listen
" I jogged up to her breathless.
"No! You listen!" She screamed. A few people turned around and stared. I flinched. Was this really happening? So soon. My mind started to graze over all of the beautiful memories we had together. Haha, did I just say "beautiful"? How ironic
"You c-can't even stand to look at me anymore Thomas! Don't deny it! H-h-how the fuck am I supposed to be in a relationship with someone who can't even look at me?!" I looked away, ashamed. My eye caught and old lady crossing just as the sign started flashing "DON'T WALK" in red letters.
I looked back to Emily, her face contorted. She was yelling. Screaming actually.
She'd gotten herself worked up and nothing yells as loud as a drunk. Soon a crowd was gathering around us. And the constant sound of cars blaring their horns diagonal from the corner we were all standing on.
I don't know what finally threw me over the edge, that god damn sound of a car screeching across the pavement sure helped though. Finally I couldn't take it anymore.
"Just shut the fuck up!" I yelled at whatever was making that god forsaken sound. I looked at Emily and realized I'd just screwed up big.
you..." Emily said tears rolling down her cheeks as she turned from me to take her final steps out of my life.
"No! Emily not you! It was the-" I was cut off by that goddamn horn again. And then I panicked as I realized what was just about to happen. I reached out for her and yelled her name. You know those dreams you have, when you're trying so hard to say something, but your voice just doesn't seem to work? That's how I felt.
Emily's head seemed to turn to look over her shoulder in slow motion, at me one last time, though, this all must have been happening in mere seconds. My eyes fed on the perfect features of her face, and I could almost swear she smiled. Before I could really notice if she was or not the blaring sound of the car horn was so lowed it made my ears ring.
And just like that, a beautiful rebel named Emily, with choppy dirty blond hair, was a mess of blood underneath a blue SUV.
My mind whispered to me. So I staggered to my feet. Ignoring all the stares of people around me and shoved passed every single one of those motherfuckers who just stood and watched. I ran for what really wasn't a long time at all, because I had to stop a puked my guts up on the side walk, rocking myself back and forth, wishing I could just stop shaking.
Only God knows how I managed to get myself up and walk back to the corner of that street. I felt empty and numb as the ambulance and police arrived. I wondered if that's how I had made Emily feel as the police officer went through a series of routine questions. Out of the corner of my eye I saw what must have been Emily's body covered by a sheet on a stretcher. It made me think about whether or not she had ever believed in God.
I looked up at the sky and felt like an idiot that I had never asked her.
"Um, excuse me, sir
?" The police officer was staring at me. I crumpled to the
ground, right then and there. The tears pouring down my face, wishing more than
anything that this was all just a bad dream.
* * *
Attending the funeral wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. My biggest fear was seeing Emily lying dead in a casket, like she was some shitty display at a museum. They ended up not having an open casket though, because of the condition of the body.
So, like I had been doing a lot lately, I started to imagine. I imagined what Emily would look like dead as they were lowering the casket down into the dirt. Somehow, I knew, even dead, Emily's eyes would be open.
Not even death could have a solid grasp around her.
don't be afraid, it's only love.